Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Little Anniversaries, Big Weapons

This column originally appeared in the Norton Mirror in December 2006.

Today is my anniversary. But please, don’t tell my wife. I’m counting on her forgetting.

No, it is not our wedding anniversary today. That comes in May, and will be our 30th. This is a different anniversary, one of those “little” anniversaries that you usually celebrate when you are a young couple, full of hope and happiness, gazing adoringly at each other and together into the future.

You know, the kind we older couples now mired in the reality of our lives scoff at and ridicule when we observe? Well, I no longer laugh and scoff. I have taken what was formerly a liability and turned it into an asset. I no longer forget these anniversaries – I use them.

Today is 34 years to the day that my wife and I first kissed. It was when we were in high school, and took place while standing at the front door of her house. Her youngest sister was having a slumber party in the front room that night, and our first kiss ended when one of her friends watching us in the darkness felt compelled to shout out “Eeewww, mush!”.

This is just one of the “little” anniversaries we have celebrated over the years. We celebrate the anniversary of our first date, the day we started going “steady” in high school, and possibly a few others we won’t discuss here.

Over the years, the observance of these “little” anniversaries has diminished quite a bit. Kids and life in general will do that to you. I always had to struggle and try to remember all the dates, not wanting to be the one to forget and seem uncaring.

But now, with our kids grown, my wife has a busy job and career. Oddly enough, she manufactures calendars. You would think that gives her a decided advantage on all things related to dates, but in fact just the opposite is true.

She is always thinking years ahead, and has to worry about making sure she has planned all the special occasions and dates for calendars well into the future. This means she often has no idea what the current date is, let alone what it might represent.

So the first time I gave her a card for one of our “little” anniversaries and saw the look of horror and dismay on her face as she realized she had forgotten, I knew I was on to something.

At first she tried to pretend she had left her card for me at work, but eventually admitted she had forgotten. The tearful apology that followed, along with the wonderful treatment I was accorded in the aftermath, soon had me over the disappointment of being forgotten.

But I milked it – boy, did I milk it. I gave her the sad eyes, all while telling her it really didn’t matter. After all, I told her, at least she knew that I still remembered and thus still loved her. Oh yeah, I was workin’ it.

From that day on, our “little” anniversaries have become little competitions. I always get her a card, and then give it to her just after the stroke of midnight when it becomes our anniversary. Sometimes she triumphantly pulls her own card out from under her pillow, with that smug look on her face that says I have not bested her this year.

But other times I see the look of consternation, and I know I have won. On those occasions I have gained the upper hand in our relationship, albeit for a very short time. I can see the pang of regret in her eyes, the guilt that sweeps all-too-briefly across her lovely face.

So while my friends and my children may ridicule these “little” anniversaries and the way we observe them, I merely smile knowingly. After nearly 30 years of marriage, I and others like me understand the importance of any edge we can possibly gain in our relationships.

Our next anniversary is January 7th. If you see me smiling, you’ll know she forgot. I’ve got my card all signed, ready to go.


Cape Cod Gal said...

These are very important. I started "offically" dating my husband some time in the month of March. (I can't remember the exact date) So, sometime during that month, I just reach over, give him a hug and say "thanks for dealing with me all these years". Our wedding anniversary was Monday, 9/22. 1 year! But officially, it's been 9 1/2 years of togetherness!

Bill Gouveia said...

Congratulations to CCG and Big K on one year of wedded bliss!

Cape Cod Gal said...

Bliss? Who said anything about bliss?? LOL! The man is a nut! (But, I do love him!)